Sometimes it can be tough to prioritize your mental health, but this Mental Health Awareness Month, Calm aims to make it a little easier.
Every week in May, Calm’s mindfulness experts will provide you with simple, quick ways to feel better right now. No need to clear your schedule – these are all easy actions that, hopefully, will add up in a big way.
Jeff Warren, the expert behind Calm’s Daily Trip, has five tips this week.
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1. Talk to someone about how you feel.
Could be a friend, a therapist, anyone open and sympathetic. This is one of the most powerful interventions available to us. The act of trying to articulate exactly how we’re feeling and how we may be struggling – not knowing the words, trying to find them anyway, letting the process of feeling in and speaking out just happen – this is a form of meditation. When we send our awareness inside, we change. More of us comes alive. It can lead to immense clarity and insight about yourself. And the act of sharing from that honest place – the vulnerability and openness implicit in this – can immediately shift our mood and ease our pain. It also works the other way. Openly listening to another person’s struggles and insights can take our minds away from our own worries, and help us feel more connected to our larger human family. Check out this short piece for a few “how to” tips.
2. Get lost in rhythm.
The rhythm of the breath, the rhythm of the drum, the rhythm of the body. Rhythm is medicine. Find your rhythm.
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3. Balance structure with novelty.
The body likes routine. Eating at a regular time, sleeping at a regular time, getting sunlight at a regular time; structure helps our body allocate resources and stay regulated. But, of course, we also have a mind. The mind likes novelty. Plunging ourselves into a new environment can reset our enthusiasm and open our perspective. This is one reason why travel is so invigorating. So, find the right balance for you, and then be deliberate about making both happen. My own ideal rhythm is six days of routine, one day of randomness and surprise.
4. Get curious about what you already do, and then boost the signal.
Whether it’s walking in nature, doing crossword puzzles, hanging with your dog, working out, watering the plants, singing in the shower, whatever – most of us already engage in simple activities that ground and support and settle us. It’s just we may never have thought of them as being in any way special. They are. They’re practices. The more we honor them and bring them into our awareness, the more likely we are to repeat them, and therefore to reap their benefits. My suggestion is to make a list. Spend a week observing yourself, and anytime you do anything that you enjoy – something that takes your mind off your worries – write it down, and post the list on your fridge as a reminder. Be sure to leave lots of space at the bottom for new items. Below is my own list, composed years ago and still useful. For additional creative inspiration, check out these creative practices submitted by actual human beings.